Call 911- What Happens When You Call

What happens when you dial 911 in Otter Tail County

When a 911 call is received at the dispatch center the first two questions asked are; what is the nature of the emergency and what is the location of the emergency.  At that time processes are already in motion to affect the proper response.  As details are further communicated the response teams are immediately informed as to the nature and magnitude of the event.  Informing the dispatcher of any known road construction or road obstacles is helpful.

Both land line calls and cell phone calls can accurately provide locations.  Locations can be relayed by the caller to the dispatcher, a land line call can automatically show the address to the dispatcher or the cellular system can use triangulation of signals from cellular towers to determine relatively accurate locations.

Response to an emergency is not limited by service district or county borders.  Mutual Aid contracts between service districts and counties provide cooperation of emergency services, enhancing the benefit to all citizens.

Air ambulance service is available.  If the air ambulance is sent out, and ultimately the patient is not carried, there is no charge for the service.

The panel discussed that some lake property roads around lakes are not maintained well enough to provide safe travel for emergency vehicles.  Standards of 16 foot height and 3 foot clearance on each side of a road were mentioned as minimums.  In some cases where roads are owned and maintained by local residents they take it upon themselves to maintain emergency vehicle compatible roadways.

In many cases if the event occurs outside of a municipality costs are assessed to property owners for emergency response.  These costs are not uniformly set.  It was noted that the caller who is not the property owner is never assessed.

Emergency service organizations in Otter Tail County often are manned by volunteer staff.  These persons sacrifice their time and talents to not only respond to emergencies but also to participate in the training and education required to perform their duties.   It was stated by the panel that the citizens should not only show their support equipping these service organizations with sufficient facilities and tools but also support local businesses in their communities where these individuals work.

Lake property owners are encouraged to sign up for Otter Tail County’s Code Red notification system. Otter Tail County and its community partners keep residents and businesses informed of emergencies and other time-sensitive information through Code RED, a high-speed emergency notification system capable of delivering customized emergency messages by telephone call, text messages, and emails. Notifications can be sent to individual neighborhoods or communities, or the entire county for critical situations like weather, missing persons, and evacuation notices.

To see a video of how the system works, click 911 video . Click 911 website to go to the website. 

The consensus of the panel was that the most important thing for citizens to remember is simply, dial 911.  Whether the event requires law enforcement, fire or medical services the 911 dispatchers are trained to efficiently determine what appropriate emergency assets need to be launched.